The European Union (EU) has added the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) to the list of alleged terrorist organizations. This entails, among other things, that all PKK financial reserves and transactions have been frozen and that the EU member states are free to forbid all its political activities. The PKK was not on the list when it was drafted in December 2001. NATO-member Turkey then started a diplomatic protest campaign in order to have the PKK on the list. The Netherlands was one of the last few EU member countries to confirm PKK’s involvement in terrorist actions and to agree with the PKK listing.
Following the fight of the United States against terrorism, the EU started collecting information about alleged terrorist groups and set up a list of these groups. Among the organizations that are regarded as terrorist groups are the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the Basque Secession Movement ETA and the Palestinian organizations Jihad and Hamas. Osama Bin Laden’s network Al-Qaeda is listed as well. Some smaller European countries like the Netherlands had asked for a study reservation with respect to the PKK. In an official statement the Dutch Interior Minister, Klaas de Vries, recently said that the PKK, although having a violent past in Turkey, should be allowed to enjoy the freedom of meeting, association and speech. The PKK is not officially forbidden in the Netherlands, in contrast to some other EU countries such as Germany.The Netherlands’ compliant attitude toward the PKK and its initial refusal to list the PKK have strained the Netherlands’ relationship with Turkey. This became clear for instance by the unpleasant reception that the Dutch Defense Minister Frank de Grave was given in Ankara in March 2002. Traditionally, relations between Turkey and the Netherlands have been outstanding, evidenced by the intense and still increasing trade between both countries. The efforts of the Dutch government to make Turkey a candidate for EU membership point in the same direction. However, the Netherlands also has a certain regard for the PKK. The party recently changed its name into the Kurdistan Congress for Freedom and Democracy (Kadek), though it is still listed as PKK. Representatives of the newly formed party have stated that they continue to fight for their independence, but only with peaceful means. Two years ago the PKK members unilaterally decided to disarm themselves.